I spent 10 years of my life involved in the organization, promotion and production of music events. The majority of those were focused on electronic music and took the form of club events or what the media has termed ‘rave’ parties. Together with my partner, we regularly drew crowds of between 400 and 600 people in several different cities.
Obviously, the logistics of putting together an event of this size can be complicated. In fact, being organized is far more important than being well-funded when it comes to starting out as a promoter. If you aren’t careful, you can easily blow your budget on aspects of your event where you should be saving as much as possible. This list highlights three of the most crucial things to keep an eye on when promoting a serious event.
1. Lock down your venue. It’s very, very easy to get complacent when it comes to finding a venue, particularly if you are throwing an after-hours party. The reality is, your venue can cause you one of your biggest headaches, particularly if it disappears at the last moment due to the owner changing their mind, the permit issues or deposit problems. There’s no point in spending weeks and weeks promoting your event and then have it be cancelled when the venue falls through. This is why so many promoters prefer to return to the same clubs over and over – the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their party will definitely occur outweighs the risk of the location getting stale for a large proportion of people. If possible, always make sure to have a tried and true backup venue in place should your primary option be taken off the table.
2. Lock down your talent. Do you have performers flying in from outside the country? If so, do you have all of the paperwork they will need to get through customs and legally work at your event? Do you have a dedicated driver who will pick up your talent, take them to the hotel and then make sure they get to the event safely? These are all important responsibilities that you will have to delegate in order to have your rave or club event run smoothly. Even if your talent is local, managing deposits, timeslots and guest list concerns is far easier to do in advance than it is at the door the night of the party when you have a thousand other things to be concerned about.
3. Get the word out. It has become trendy to simply promote over the internet – that is, post a notice about the event on strategic message boards and build online hype instead of going out and actually pounding the pavement with flyers. Don’t be lazy. While you will certainly get a percentage of online responders to buy tickets and show up at your party, you have a much greater chance to catch someone’s attention by going the extra mile and targeting nightclubs, other events and even social gatherings with flyer crews and networking through other promoters. It’s also important to make sure that those you have entrusted with spreading the word about your party are actually doing what you ask them to – it’s not unheard of for boxes of flyers to disappear into the closet of a crew leader instead of into the sweaty hands of partiers.
The above advice is basic, but there are many promoters who don’t even have a skeleton of planning upon which to base their event organization. Following these simple guidelines can help you put effort into what’s important, freeing you up to deal with other more peripheral details in an efficient and confident manner.